Tag Archives: discovery

KAUST team synthesizes novel metal-organic framework for efficient CO2 removal

By Caitlin Clark

“In Professor Mohamed Eddaoudi’s research group, we are always on the quest to find novel nanostructured functionalized materialsfor specific applications,” explained KAUST Research Scientist Dr. Youssef Belmabkhout, a member of Prof. Eddaoudi’s Functional Materials Design, Discovery, and Development (FMD3) group, part of KAUST’s Advanced Membranes and Porous Materials (AMPM) research center.

Dr. Osama Shekhah, Senior Research Scientist in the FMD3 group added that the group searches “for materials that will be highly suitable for trace and low CO2 concentration removal using purely physical adsorption. These will help in energy saving and in the reduction of the cost of the production, purification, and enrichment of highly valuable commodities such as CH4, H2, O2, N2, and others.”

Drs. Shekhah and Belmabkhout and a team of researchers from Prof. Eddaoudi’s group recently discovered and synthesized a new porous, moisture-resistant, inexpensive and reusable copper-based metal-organic framework (MOF) called SIFSIX-3-Cu that can selectively adsorb and remove trace CO2 from mixtures of various gases. Their findings were published in the June 25 edition of Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5228).

MOFs are a promising new class of hybrid solid-state materials for CO2 removal. “Their uniqueness,” explained Prof. Eddaoudi, “resides in the ability to control their assembly and introduce functionality on demand. This feature is not readily available in other solid-state materials.”

The researchers showed for the first time that MOF crystal chemistry permits the assembly of a new isostructural hexafluorosilicate MOF (SIFSIX-3-Cu) based on copper instead of zinc.

“This technology is anticipated to outperform the existing mature technologies for CO2 physical adsorption in terms of energy efficiency,” says Dr. Shekhah. “The key factors for this finding are the combination of suitable pore size and high, uniform charge density in the pores of the MOF.”

Using their newly synthesized MOF, the researchers examined the conditions relevant to direct air capture (DAC), a mechanism to remove CO2 from air and reduce greenhouse gas emissions uniformly around the world.

DAC is more challenging than post-combustion capture, but it may be practical if alternative “suitable adsorbent combining optimum uptake, kinetics, energetics and CO2 selectivity is available at trace CO2 concentration,” the researchers stated.

The team discovered that contracting SIFSIX-3-Cu’s pore system to 3.5 Å enhanced the material’s efficiency, making it able to adsorb relatively large CO2 amounts 10-15 times higher than zinc-based metal-organic adsorbents, such as SIFSIX-3-Zn. In SIFSIX-3-Zn, the pore size is 3.84 Å.

“We attribute this property to enhanced physical sorption through the favorable electrostatic interactions between CO2 molecules and fluorine atoms present on the surface of the adsorbent,” explained Zhijie Chen, a Ph.D. student in the FMD3 group and a co-author of the paper.

Dr. Vincent Guillerm, a post-doctoral fellow in the FMD3 group and a co-author of the paper also noted that, “the pore contraction gives CO2 uptake and selectivity at very low partial pressures. This is relevant to DAC and trace carbon dioxide removal.”

“SIFSIX-3-Cu gives enhanced CO2 physical adsorption properties, uptake, and selectivity in highly diluted gas streams, and this performance is unachievable with other classes of porous materials,” added Dr. Karim Adil, a co-author of the paper and Research Scientist in the FMD3 group.

The researchers are excited about their finding as it offers the potential to be used not only for DAC but also for other applications related to energy, the environment, and the healthcare field. For example, SIFSIX-3-Cu could be used to remove and recycle CO2 in confined spaces, such as in submarines or space shuttles, and could also be used in anesthesia machines, which require efficient CO2 sorbents.

“Our work paves the way for scientists to develop new separation agents suitable for challenging endeavor pertaining to CO2 ultra-purification processing,” said Dr. Shekhah. “Our study is also part of a greater critical effort to develop economical and practical pathways to reduce cumulative CO2 emissions provoking the undesirable greenhouse gas effect.”

Prof. Eddaoudi reiterated that “MOFs offer remarkable CO2 physical adsorption attributes in highly diluted gas streams thanks to their ability for rational pore size modification and inorganic-organics moieties substitution. Other classes of plain materials are unable to attain this.”

In the future, Prof. Eddaoudi’s FMD3 group will continue to develop topologically and chemically different MOFs. “We aim to target novel MOFs with suitable pore size and high charge density,” explained Prof. Eddaoudi. “We will then use these for the important task of removing trace and low and high concentration CO2.”

Source: KAUST


 

Magnetic states at oxide interfaces controlled by electricity. Top image show magnetic state with -3 volts applied, and bottom image shows nonmagnetic state with 0 volts applied. Credit: University of Pittsburgh

New Discovery Could Pave the Way for Spin-based Computing

Novel oxide-based magnetism follows electrical commands

PITTSBURGH—Electricity and magnetism rule our digital world. Semiconductors process electrical information, while magnetic materials enable long-term data storage. A University of Pittsburgh research team has discovered a way to fuse these two distinct properties in a single material, paving the way for new ultrahigh density storage and computing architectures.

Whilephones and laptops rely on electricity to process and temporarily store information, long-term data storage is still largely achieved via magnetism. Discs coated with magnetic material are locally oriented (e.g. North or South to represent “1” and “0”), and each independent magnet can be used to store a single bit of information. However, this information is not directly coupled to the semiconductors used to process information. Having a magnetic material that can store and process information would enable new forms of hybrid storage and processing capabilities.Such a material has been created by the Pitt research team led by Jeremy Levy, a Distinguished Professor of Condensed Matter Physics in Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and director of the Pittsburgh Quantum Institute.

Magnetic states at oxide interfaces controlled by electricity. Top image show magnetic state with -3 volts applied, and bottom image shows nonmagnetic state with 0 volts applied. Credit: University of Pittsburgh
Magnetic states at oxide interfaces controlled by electricity. Top image show magnetic state with -3 volts applied, and bottom image shows nonmagnetic state with 0 volts applied. Credit: University of Pittsburgh

Levy, other researchers at Pitt, and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison today published their work in Nature Communications, elucidating their discovery of a form of magnetism that can be stabilized with electric fields rather than magnetic fields. The University of Wisconsin-Madision researchers were led by Chang-Beom Eom, the Theodore H. Geballe Professor and Harvey D. Spangler Distinguished Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Working with a material formed from a thick layer of one oxide—strontium titanate—and a thin layer of a second material—lanthanum aluminate—these researchers have found that the interface between these materials can exhibit magnetic behavior that is stable at room temperature. The interface is normally conducting, but by “chasing” away the electrons with an applied voltage (equivalent to that of two AA batteries), the material becomes insulating and magnetic. The magnetic properties are detected using “magnetic force microscopy,” an imaging technique that scans a tiny magnet over the material to gauge the relative attraction or repulsion from the magnetic layer.

The newly discovered magnetic properties come on the heels of a previous invention by Levy, so-called “Etch-a-Sketch Nanoelectronics” involving the same material. The discovery of magnetic properties can now be combined with ultra-small transistors, terahertz detectors, and single-electron devices previously demonstrated.

“This work is indeed very promising and may lead to a new type of magnetic storage,” says Stuart Wolf, head of the nanoSTAR Institute at the University of Virginia. Though not an author on this paper, Wolf is widely regarded as a pioneer in the area of spintronics.

“Magnetic materials tend to respond to magnetic fields and are not so sensitive to electrical influences,” Levy says. “What we have discovered is that a new family of oxide-based materials can completely change its behavior based on electrical input.”

This discovery was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Army Research Office.

Source: University of Pittsburgh News

Figure 1 (left) Exclusion limits for production of Higgsino production as a function of Higgsino mass and branching fraction. (right) Most sensitive search channel as a function of Higgsino mass and branching fraction. Credit: CERN

Recent results in the search for supersymmetry : CERN CMS

By Frank Wuerthwein, Keith Ulmer and Guillelmo Gomez Ceballos.


Among the leading candidates to describe physics beyond the standard model of particle physics is Supersymmetry, a new symmetry that posits the existence of a partner particle for each known particle in the standard model. Supersymmetry, or “SUSY” as it has come to be known, may help explain the nature of dark matter and the large difference in strength between the fundamental forces of nature. Each year, new experimental results and theoretical developments are reported in the “SUSY” conference series, with the 2014 edition (SUSY2014) happening this week in Manchester, England[1].

Figure 1 (left) Exclusion limits for production of Higgsino production as a function of Higgsino mass and branching fraction. (right) Most sensitive search channel as a function of Higgsino mass and branching fraction. Credit: CERN
Figure 1 (left) Exclusion limits for production of Higgsino production as a function of Higgsino mass and branching fraction. (right) Most sensitive search channel as a function of Higgsino mass and branching fraction. Credit: CERN

Experimental evidence for SUSY has been sought for many years at multiple colliders, including a vast array of search results from the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. With data from Run 1 of the LHC collected through the end of 2012, the full set of results thus far has not revealed any striking signs of physics beyond the standard model [2]. New searches presented at SUSY2014 have begun to probe increasingly complicated potential decay chains and to combine multiple searches to access more challenging new physics scenarios. Below we highlight some of the most recent results first presented this summer at SUSY14 and ICHEP 2014 [3].

Figure 2: Exclusion limits versus gluino and neutralino masses for a variety of gluino decay branching fractions from the “razor” search. Credit: CERN
Figure 2: Exclusion limits versus gluino and neutralino masses for a variety of gluino decay branching fractions from the “razor” search. Credit: CERN

Search for new physics in the final states hh, Zh, and ZZ plus MET

After its discovery only two years ago, the Higgs boson is already a powerful tool in the search for new physics. Earlier this year, CMS submitted for publication [4] a set of searches for associate production of W, Higgs, and missing transverse energy (“MET”, indicative of particles escaping the detector). At ICHEP this summer, CMS presented the first combined searches for hh, Zh, and ZZ plus MET. No excess above standard model backgrounds is observed. Figure 1 shows the interpretation of the results in terms of limits on higgsino pair production as a function of the higgsino mass and decay branching fraction. Within the framework of Gauge Mediated Supersymmetry Breaking (GMSB), the neutral higgsino decays to a gravitino and either a higgs or Z boson. The left plot in Figure 1 shows that CMS excludes higgsino production up to ~ 300GeV when the higgsino decays at equal rate to either of these two decays. The right plot in Figure 1 indicates that four different final states dominate the sensitivity in different parts of the 2D parameter space, clearly demonstrating that searches for new physics with one or two higgs bosons in the final state benefit greatly from combining many different decay channels.

Figure 3: Dilepton invariant mass distribution for “same flavor” events, compared to the background prediction from “opposite flavor” events. Credit:CERN
Figure 3: Dilepton invariant mass distribution for “same flavor” events, compared to the background prediction from “opposite flavor” events. Credit:CERN

Search for gluino pair production via the decays to top pairs, bottom pairs, or top and bottom plus MET

Up to now, CMS searches for gluino pair production inspired by “natural SUSY” (i.e. SUSY in which the masses of the SUSY partners are not much higher than those of the Higgs boson) have focused on final states with either four top or four b-quarks plus MET. In contrast, theoretically any combination of MET plus 4 quarks, top or bottom, is well justified. At ICHEP, CMS presented the first complete exploration of sensitivity across the full set of possible final states and branching fractions. Figure 2 shows the corresponding exclusion curves in the gluino vs neutralino mass plane. This search employs the so-called “razor” variables, and its sensitivity is dominated by all-hadronic final states. The more top quarks there are in the final state for a given gluino mass, the less momentum is left for all the decay products, and the harder it is thus to distinguish signal from background. Accordingly, the sensitivity decreases as the number of top quarks per event increases.

Figure 4: MSSMvsSM limit in the MSSM mmod+h scenario. At each mA - tanβpoint a Hypothesis test is performed testing the MSSM (A+H+h+BKG) hypothesis against the SM (hSM+BKG) hypothesis. Credit: CERN
Figure 4: MSSMvsSM limit in the MSSM mmod+h scenario. At each mA – tanβpoint a Hypothesis test is performed testing the MSSM (A+H+h+BKG) hypothesis against the SM (hSM+BKG) hypothesis. Credit: CERN

Searching for SUSY with an “Edge”

The dilepton invariant mass distribution for leptons from the decays χ20 to l+l- χ10, or similar decays via a slepton as an intermediate state, display the striking feature of a kinematic “edge” [5, 6]. As these decays conserve lepton flavor, this edge is present only in same-flavor events, i.e. ee and μμ, and is completely absent in the “opposite flavor” lepton sample, i.e. eμ events. In contrast, backgrounds for which each of the two leptons come from a different W decay, e.g. top pairs, WW, etc., will have identical dilepton distributions for same and opposite flavor. Thus, the eμ sample in data provides a perfect model of the background dilepton mass distribution – modulo effects from the trigger and lepton reconstruction. The kinematic edge is a sufficiently striking signature to reveal new physics even at relatively modest hadronic activity, HT and MET, i.e. in the presence of sizeable top and Z backgrounds.

CMS presented a search for such an “edge” in dilepton events with jets and MET at SUSY2014 using the full 8TeV data sample [7]. Figure 3 overlays the dilepton mass distribution in ee plus μμ (data points), with the corresponding one from eμ (pink histogram). The blue shaded region depicts the systematic error envelope for the background prediction. A small excess is visible below the Z peak. A signal region of 20GeV < mll < 70GeV was chosen before data taking. Within this region, 860 events are observed with an expected standard model background yield of 730 ± 40. The small excess is consistent with a 2.6 sigma fluctuation of the standard model background. For more details see [8].

Search for additional neutral MSSM Higgs bosons in the H→ττ decay channel

Another highlight among the CMS results presented at the SUSY2014 conference is the search for additional neutral Higgs bosons decaying to τ leptons, which is the most promising channel to search for such Higgs bosons in the context of the minimal SUSY extension of the standard model, the MSSM. Following the release of a preliminary result based on the full data set of the 2011/2012 data taking period [8], additional results based on a new interpretation of the data have been presented at this conference for the first time [9]. While the data selection has not changed, extensive work has set the ground for a new interpretation of the data in the context of modern benchmark models. In particular, the new models take into account the presence of the recently discovered Higgs boson with a mass of 125 GeV, as proposed in [10]. Also for the first time the model-dependent exclusion contours as a function of the mass of the CP-odd Higgs boson, A, and the ratio of the vacuum expectation values of the two SUSY Higgs doublets, tanβ, have been derived, taking the presence of the newly discovered Higgs boson properly into account in the test statistic. As recently demonstrated by CMS [11], all observations of the new boson are so far compatible with the SM expectation within ~10% accuracy, which justifies the standard model hypothesis to be the better choice for the test statistic. The hypothesis test now becomes a search based on a model with three Higgs bosons compared against the standard model with only one Higgs boson. Traditional limits, based on the test statistic excluding the Higgs boson from the standard model hypothesis have also been made public on the CMS web-pages [12]. Also made available to the public is an extended database of results based on a model-independent single-resonance search model, which will be extremely valuable to theorists engaged in model building. Figure 1 shows the exclusion contour in a modified mh,max scenario, also referred to as mh,mod+ exploiting the new statistical treatment for the statistical inference.

By Frank Wuerthwein, Keith Ulmer and Guillelmo Gomez Ceballos.


[1] http://www.susy2014.manchester.ac.uk

[2] https://twiki.cern.ch/twiki/bin/view/CMSPublic/PhysicsResultsSUS

[3] http://ichep2014.es

[4] https://twiki.cern.ch/twiki/bin/view/CMSPublic/PhysicsResultsSUS13006

[5] http://cds.cern.ch/record/1194507/files/SUS-09-002-pas.pdf

[6] https://twiki.cern.ch/twiki/bin/view/CMSPublic/PhysicsResultsSUS11011

[7] https://twiki.cern.ch/twiki/bin/view/CMSPublic/PhysicsResultsSUS12019

[8] CMS Collaboration, “Search for Neutral MSSM Higgs Bosons Decaying to Tau Pairs in pp Collisions”, (2013), CMS-PAS-HIG-13-021.

[9] CMS Collaboration, “Search for Neutral MSSM Higgs Bosons Decaying to Tau Pairs in pp Collisions”, to be submitted to JHEP.

[10] M. S. Carena et al, “MSSM Higgs boson searches at the Tevatron and at the LHC: Impact of different benchmark scenarios” Eur. Phy. J C 73, 2552 (2013) (arXiv:hep-ph/0511023).

[11] CMS Collaboration, “Precise determination of the mass of the Higgs boson and studies of the compatibility of its couplings with the standard model”, (2014), CMS-PAS-HIG-14-009.

[12] https://indico.hep.manchester.ac.uk/contributionDisplay.py?contribId=288….

Source: CERN CMS

The largest interstellar dust track found in the Stardust aerogel collectors was this 35 micron-long hole produced by a 3 picogram speck of dust that was probably traveling so fast that it vaporized upon impact. The other two likely interstellar dust grains were traveling more slowly and remained in
Image Credit: UC Berkeley/Andrew Westphal.

Stardust Team Reports Discovery of First Potential Interstellar Space Particles

Seven rare, microscopic interstellar dust particles that date to the beginnings of the solar system are among the samples collected by scientists who have been studying the payload from NASA’s Stardust spacecraft since its return to Earth in 2006. If confirmed, these particles would be the first samples of contemporary interstellar dust.

A team of scientists has been combing through the spacecraft’s aerogel and aluminum foil dust collectors since Stardust returned in 2006.The seven particles probably came from outside our solar system, perhaps created in a supernova explosion millions of years ago and altered by exposure to the extreme space environment.

The largest interstellar dust track found in the Stardust aerogel collectors was this 35 micron-long hole produced by a 3 picogram mote that was probably traveling so fast that it vaporized upon impact. The other two likely interstellar dust grains were traveling more slowly and remained intact after a soft landing in the aerogel. Image Credit: Andrew Westphal, UC Berkeley
The largest interstellar dust track found in the Stardust aerogel collectors was this 35 micron-long hole produced by a 3 picogram mote that was probably traveling so fast that it vaporized upon impact. The other two likely interstellar dust grains were traveling more slowly and remained intact after a soft landing in the aerogel.
Image Credit: Andrew Westphal, UC Berkeley

The research report appears in the Aug. 15 issue of the journal Science. Twelve other papers about the particles will appear next week in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science.

“These are the most challenging objects we will ever have in the lab for study, and it is a triumph that we have made as much progress in their analysis as we have,” said Michael Zolensky, curator of the Stardust laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and coauthor of the Science paper.

Stardust was launched in 1999 and returned to Earth on Jan. 15, 2006, at the Utah Test and Training Range, 80 miles west of Salt Lake City. The Stardust Sample Return Canister was transported to a curatorial facility at Johnson where the Stardust collectors remain preserved and protected for scientific study.

Inside the canister, a tennis racket-like sample collector tray captured the particles in silica aerogel as the spacecraft flew within 149 miles of a comet in January 2004. An opposite side of the tray holds interstellar dust particles captured by the spacecraft during its seven-year, three-billion-mile journey.

Scientists caution that additional tests must be done before they can say definitively that these are pieces of debris from interstellar space. But if they are, the particles could help explain the origin and evolution of interstellar dust.

The particles are much more diverse in terms of chemical composition and structure than scientists expected. The smaller particles differ greatly from the larger ones and appear to have varying histories. Many of the larger particles have been described as having a fluffy structure, similar to a snowflake.

The largest interstellar dust track found in the Stardust aerogel collectors was this 35 micron-long hole produced by a 3 picogram speck of dust that was probably traveling so fast that it vaporized upon impact. The other two likely interstellar dust grains were traveling more slowly and remained in Image Credit: UC Berkeley/Andrew Westphal.
The largest interstellar dust track found in the Stardust aerogel collectors was this 35 micron-long hole produced by a 3 picogram speck of dust that was probably traveling so fast that it vaporized upon impact. The other two likely interstellar dust grains were traveling more slowly and remained in
Image Credit: UC Berkeley/Andrew Westphal.

Two particles, each only about two microns (thousandths of a millimeter) in diameter, were isolated after their tracks were discovered by a group of citizen scientists. These volunteers, who call themselves “Dusters,” scanned more than a million images as part of a University of California, Berkeley, citizen-science project, which proved critical to finding these needles in a haystack.

A third track, following the direction of the wind during flight, was left by a particle that apparently was moving so fast — more than 10 miles per second (15 kilometers per second) — that it vaporized. Volunteers identified tracks left by another 29 particles that were determined to have been kicked out of the spacecraft into the collectors.

Four of the particles reported in Science were found in aluminum foils between tiles on the collector tray. Although the foils were not originally planned as dust collection surfaces, an international team led by physicist Rhonda Stroud of the Naval Research Laboratory searched the foils and identified four pits lined with material composed of elements that fit the profile of interstellar dust particles.

Three of these four particles, just a few tenths of a micron across, contained sulfur compounds, which some astronomers have argued do not occur in interstellar dust. A preliminary examination team plans to continue analysis of the remaining 95 percent of the foils to possibly find enough particles to understand the variety and origins of interstellar dust.

Supernovas, red giants and other evolved stars produce interstellar dust and generate heavy elements like carbon, nitrogen and oxygen necessary for life. Two particles, dubbed Orion and Hylabrook, will undergo further tests to determine their oxygen isotope quantities, which could provide even stronger evidence for their extrasolar origin.

Scientists at Johnson have scanned half the panels at various depths and turned these scans into movies, which were then posted online, where the Dusters could access the footage to search for particle tracks.

Once several Dusters tag a likely track, Andrew Westphal, lead author of the Science article, and his team verify the identifications. In the one million frames scanned so far, each a half-millimeter square, Dusters have found 69 tracks, while Westphal has found two. Thirty-one of these were extracted along with surrounding aerogel by scientists at Johnson and shipped to UC Berkeley to be analyzed.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, manages the Stardust mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, developed and operated the spacecraft.